LFP Councilmember Mark Phillips: King Conservation District (KCD) Election

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

By Mark Phillips, Lake Forest Park Councilmember 

For the last three years I have been a Sound Cities Association representative on the King Conservation District Advisory Committee, and had the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the great work that KCD does in our county.

Originally established in the 1930’s following the Dust Bowl, conservation districts provide technical assistance and funding for the conservation of land and water resources. There are now over 3,000 such entities around the country, including one in every county in Washington.

KCD is a non-regulatory, non-enforcement agency that assists urban and rural King County property owners in a variety of ways including farmland conservation, agricultural methods, local food distribution (like farmers markets), and forest stewardship, including wildfire prevention. In my city, KCD has assisted residents with invasive plant removal, re-vegetation and steep slope stabilization projects.

An annual fee to property owners is the primary funding for KCD’s work. That annual fee for residential property owners was recently set by the King County Council at $11.63 for 2020, rising incrementally to $12.79 in 2024.

KCD is governed by a 5-person Board of Supervisors, three of whom are chosen by county residents in special elections. Such an election is underway now, and will continue through February 11th to fill one of those positions. Anyone in Lake Forest Park, Shoreline or Kenmore who is a registered voter can vote in the KCD election.

As has been widely reported, King County Elections is using this Conservation District election to test an electronic voting format, allowing voters to cast ballots immediately using a computer, smartphone or tablet. However, the process still allows the option of voting in the more traditional manner by downloading a ballot, completing it by hand and filing it by mail or via one of the existing ballot drop boxes.

It is hoped that this trial might help evaluate the feasibility of electronic voting for future elections. Since it is an electronic process, concern has been expressed about safeguarding the security of election information, both results and voter data, including by Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

As a precaution in this election, all ballots received electronically will be printed and retained by King County Elections. To vote electronically, voters must provide their name, date of birth and email address, and sign their ballot using their mouse or fingertip, depending on the device used.

People wishing to vote in this election, either electronically or by mail or drop box, can do so through the election link on the King Conservation District website, where they will find step-by-step instructions as well as information about the candidates running for the open position.


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